Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

NSW Government sensibly moves on a fairer price for solar

The NSW Government is to be congratulated for moving to recognise a fairer price for solar for NSW solar owners, according to Solar Citizens, who have just received notice of the proposed changes

“Solar Citizens recognises the efforts of the Minister here for this excellent progress towards a fairer price for NSW solar owners,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“Following shortly after the Victorian Government announcement, we have another government actually listening to the concerns of solar households - this is a win for solar owners across the state.

“The proposed ‘doubling of benchmark range’ could see 360,000 solar owners getting a better price for their solar, that’s a great outcome.

“These recommended increases to the tariff better reflect the increased wholesale price of electricity and demonstrates the widespread benefits to the network as a whole that solar provides,” she said.

“We call on power companies operating in NSW to commit to implement the new tariffs from 1 July 2017 as recommended by IPART."

Governments of all political persuasions and at all levels, need to understand that it is critical that a fair price for solar producers is mandated,” Ms Tager said.

A fairer feed-in tariff needs to become law to truly recognise the value solar provides in reducing pressure on the grid and helping the environment, benefitting all electricity consumers, whether they have solar or not.

“We are determined to see every Australian solar owner get a fair price for their solar – right across the country and will push for this increase to become legally binding,” Ms Tager said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: [email protected]

Final Report on Network Value of Solar lands in Victoria

The Victorian Essential Services Commission (ESC) has today released the highly anticipated final report into the true value of solar, following a string of recent announcements and policy changes to encourage the uptake of solar in that state.

“This report establishes the benefits that rooftop solar provides to the whole network and all energy consumers but disappointingly fails to put a dollar figure on that value,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“It is an important report in its effort to recognise the true value of solar. Unfortunately, their recommendation of further investigations into a market mechanism will cause unnecessary delays in Victorian solar owners getting a fairer price for the power they produce.

“Solar Citizens believes that the simplest and most effective way to recognise the value from locally produced and used energy is through a feed in tariff (FiT) system where solar owners receive a fair price for the power they produce,” she said.
“The ESC report comes on the back of recent announcements in Victoria such as a doubling in the price paid for solar exports, and the powering of Melbourne’s iconic tram system with solar power.
“This is a State that is streaking ahead of its interstate rivals when it comes to supporting the growth of renewable energy,” said Tager.

“This sort of recognition of the value of solar is sorely lacking in other states across the country.

“We encourage the Victorian Government to continue their common-sense approach to solar and to increase the feed in tariff to reflect the network benefits outlined in the report.

“Using a feed in tariff to recognise the true value that rooftop solar provides to the whole community will encourage solar across the state, which is good for the environment and will reduce costs to all consumers,” she said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: [email protected]

South Australia announces funding for renewables and storage but still dishes out for big gas

14 March 2017: The South Australian government has this morning announced a major funding boost for renewable energy storage across the State.

“This $150 million renewable energy fund is a practical, useful and sensible funding decision by the State Government of South Australia,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“We are however disappointed to see that the age old addiction to fossil fuels like gas is too slowly abating for the nation’s politicians.”

“This announcement from SA also draws into sharp relief the ongoing failings of Prime Minister Turnbull and his entourage of renewable smashing fossils,” she said.

“Where are they, where is their plan, where is their vision?

“We have the technology without gas for a reliable, stable and affordable energy supply system, what we lack, as always, is the political will.

“The Prime Minister and his team appear to have a much greater interest in the storage of their own political capital than on the future energy needs of the country,” O’Rourke said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: [email protected]

Solar Citizens is an independent, community organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to grow and protect solar in Australia. Together, we take action to protect the rights of millions of Australians with solar to cut bills, create clean power and take energy generation back into our own hands.

South Australians Turn to Solar Post Blackout

Solar PV installations surged at the end of last year following the statewide blackout with South Australians investing approximately 22.6 million dollars in rooftop solar from October to December last year according to new analysis of Clean Energy Regulator data by Solar Citizens.

Monthly solar installation rates jumped 17.65 per cent from October till December compared to installation rates from January till September. Installations from July till December 2016 jumped 21 per cent compared to the first six months of the year, which corresponds with price spikes experienced in South Australia in July. Since July 6,424 solar systems were installed taking South Australia to 205,068 solar systems installed across the state.

“South Australians are sending a clear message with their wallets that they see clean solar power as a key part of the solution to rising energy costs and power security while tackling climate change,” Dan Spencer, South Australia campaigner at Solar Citizens said.

“While politicians attacked South Australia’s clean energy leadership, South Australians took action at home, investing 22 million dollars of their own money into making our power cleaner and cheaper at a higher installation rate than before the September blackout,” Mr Spencer said.

“With solar and storage becoming cheaper and more affordable every day it’s no surprise that ordinary South Australians have looked to clean energy while South Australia’s power has been in the headlines.”

The top five suburbs for solar installation since the blackout were located in regional or outer suburban areas with incomes below the South Australian average according to Australian Tax Office data. The regional suburb of Waitpinga led the way followed closely by Smithfield Plains, Salisbury North, Angas Plains and Morphett Vale. This closely mirrors South Australia’s leading suburbs for total solar installations where three out of five suburbs have below average incomes and the suburbs of Aberfoyle Park and Sheidow Park sit just above the average income.

“Whether it’s in Salisbury or regional SA, South Australians are looking to solar for their power showing just how mainstream renewable energy has become in South Australia. South Australians from all walks of life are doing their bit to bring power bills down with clean energy, it’s time the Federal Government did the same,” Mr Spencer said.

The suburbs of Waitpinga, Smithfield Plains, Salisbury North, Angas Plains and Morphett Vale cut across both Liberal and Labor state electorates as well as the federal seat of Mayo held by the Nick Xenophon Team.

“The fact that South Australians are turning to solar power in increasing numbers sends a clear message to all political parties that South Australians want to see investment in clean solutions for our power, not the misleading and ideologically-driven attacks on renewable energy they’ve seen in recent weeks and months. There couldn’t be a clearer opinion poll than South Australians rolling up their sleeves and investing $22 million in clean energy,” he said.

Solar Citizens say with the costs of batteries continuing to fall South Australia’s 205,068 solar homes and businesses are perfectly placed to be a part of securing South Australia’s clean power supply with storage.

“Over 200,000 homes and businesses have now gone solar in SA and with batteries dropping in price South Australia can be powered with a mix of home solar and storage and the large renewable projects like solar thermal in Port Augusta, large scale battery storage and pumped hydro that are ready and waiting to be built in our state” Mr Spencer said.

Top stats:

  • South Australians invested approximately $22.6 million installing solar panels between October and December 2016 following the state’s September blackout and approximately $80.5 million across the 2016 calendar year (based on the average cost of a 5kW system in South Australia).
  • The top five solar installation suburbs after the September blackout in 2016 all had 2013/14 average incomes below the state average according to the Australian Tax Office.
  • Monthly installation rates of solar panels increased 17.5 percent from October till December 2016 compared installation rates before the September blackout.
  • Installation rates were up 21 percent between July and December 2016 compared to the first half of 2016 (January-June 2016).
  • 3,304 solar systems were installed in South Australia between October and December 2016, 6,424 systems were installed from July to December and 11,729 systems installed across 2016. South Australia now has 205,068 small scale solar systems installed across the state.

Top 5 suburbs for solar installation between October and December 2016

  • Waitpinga - average taxable income $40,045
  • Smithfield Plains - average taxable income $46,003
  • Salisbury North - average taxable income $42,297
  • Angas Plains - average taxable income $44,105
  • Morphett Vale - average taxable income $43,850

Top 5 suburbs by total solar installations in South Australia

  • Morphett Vale - average taxable income $43,850
  • Aberfoyle Park - average taxable income $50,243
  • Salisbury North - average taxable income $42,297
  • Sheidow Park - average taxable income $49,059
  • Smithfield Plains - average taxable income $46,003

Based on Australian Tax Office 2013/14 data, South Australia’s average taxable income in South Australia was $48,658.

Solar installation data from Clean Energy Regulator, 2017.

A full spreadsheet of the data is available here.

For media inquiries: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632

Victoria moves to instate a fairer price for solar exports

Solar Citizens has welcomed today’s announcement by the Victorian Essential Services Commission (ESC) to set a minimum rate for solar exports.

The rate to be paid from July 1 this year to households and businesses who feed power back into the grid from small renewable energy sources is set at 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

“It is encouraging to see a fairer price will be offered to the domestic producers of electricity from the middle of the year in Victoria,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“We have been campaigning for a fairer price for solar following some outrageous efforts by the big power companies to rip Australian solar producers off, it is encouraging to see that the Victorian Government and the ESC have sensibly decided to recognise the contribution that solar producers make.

“Solar owners are up against hugely powerful companies and corporations who are trying to make obscene profits from the solar they produce – solar owners want, and deserve, a fair go for the contribution they make to powering Australia.

“Solar Citizens congratulates the Victorian Government and the ESC for this decision, a decision that’s in the best interests of all consumers.

“We hope to see other regulatory bodies in Australia correcting the market failure that is seeing, in some states, solar producers being paid next to nothing for the power they produce,” said Tager.

In nearly all States and Territories a relatively low price of around 5-6c per unit is offered for rooftop solar electricity sold back to the grid. This is less than a quarter of the cost of electricity the retailer charges for electricity accessed from the grid.

“We are determined to see them follow the lead of Victoria and get a fair price for their solar – right across the country,” she said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: [email protected]

No leadership, certainty, plan or truth from Federal Government on renewables

The Federal government has failed to deliver any coherent plan for Australia’s 21st Century energy needs providing no leadership, certainty or truth on renewable energy - and this contagion is spreading through State Liberal parties.

“Today we see the South Australian Liberal Leader adopting the tactics of his Federal colleagues, misleading the public, chasing off investment in that State and putting politics well ahead of a plan or a policy,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“At the same time media reports indicate that the Federal Government were told, in no uncertain terms, that renewable energy was not the cause of a major blackout in South Australia in September, extreme weather was.

“The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have actively lied in interviews and statements since - all the facts were thrown overboard to suit their ideological and economically reckless positions on Australia’s future energy system.

“With the Federal government showing no plan for renewable energy beyond 2020, it has been up to State/Territory Governments including the ACT, South Australia, Queensland and most recently Victoria to plan their own renewable energy transitions,” said O’Rourke.

“And now, like a virus, the wreckers in opposition in several states are spouting the same nonsense, trying to undo these state based efforts - what an absolute disgrace.

“New analysis from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) today indicates unprecedented levels of new investment in large scale renewable energy projects now underway throughout Australia, despite all the efforts to talk the sector down.

More than 20 large renewable energy projects are either already under construction or will start this year, delivering an unprecedented program of works which will create almost 3,000 direct jobs and generate more than $5 billion of investment. The industry is expected to deliver approximately 2250 MW of new large-scale renewable energy in 2017, the most since the Snowy Hydro Scheme more than 50 years ago.

“These politicians at the State and Federal level should look in the face of investors, business owners and tradies involved in the renewable energy sector and explain their deceit.

“Renewable energy can, and will, absolutely replace ‘baseload’ power and provide a reliable source of electricity. What we need to do is get smarter about how we create and distribute energy.

“Part of this demands prioritising investment in ‘dispatchable’ renewables and storage systems like pumped hydro, solar thermal and batteries, which can be quickly deployed to provide power when necessary and costs are falling rapidly,” said O’Rourke.

“We need new rules to boost the uptake of distributed energy and storage like home solar and batteries and microgrids.

“What’s required is a fundamental rewrite of our energy laws in order to facilitate the transition to 100% renewable power.

“Consumers and business will be the winners from an energy system that’s safe, clean, reliable and affordable and that’s what renewables can and will deliver, no matter how loudly ideological politicians shout.”

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: [email protected]

Solar Schools Boom to Cut Pollution & Save Money

Solar Citizens has welcomed the South Australian Government’s $15 million investment in solar for forty schools across the state and energy efficiency upgrades for a further 200 schools today.

“Schools are hubs for local communities and installing solar arrays on forty schools will not only reduce pollution, school power bills and create jobs it will give students and local communities a taste of a future powered by clean energy” Dan Spencer South Australian Solar Citizens campaigner said.

“These forty schools will join the one in four South Australian homes leading the solar revolution”.

The rollout is expected to create 38 full time equivalent jobs and save more than $2 million dollars a year. Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last year across Australia there were 7480 jobs in solar PV.

“Solar means jobs for South Australians and this solar rollout will continue South Australia’s nation leading take-up of clean power” Mr Spencer said.

“While the Federal Government continues to play politics with energy it’s states like South Australia who are picking up the slack and driving Australia’s transition to clean power” Mr Spencer said.

Dan Spencer is available for comment at 11am 111 Franklin Street Adelaide

For media inquiries: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632

Victoria's new fairer feed-in tariffs - new laws just passed the State's parliament

In a positive move for Victoria’s energy sector and solar owners across the State, new laws for fairer feed in tariffs that recognise the environmental benefits of rooftop solar passed the Victorian Parliament last night.

“This is a really positive step in delivering a fair price for solar in Victoria and the Government should be applauded for making these changes law,” Shani Tager, Senior Solar Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“Yesterday’s change comes on the back of several recent Victorian Government announcements which position that state as a true renewable energy leader in this country.

“We congratulate the Minister responsible and the government of Victoria.

“These changes are a great step in recognising the true value of solar,” she said.

“If we want to encourage a smarter way of generating cheaper energy, we should be valuing solar electricity. Solar power, especially when coupled with battery storage, can provide the solution for higher electricity prices.”

**Shani Tager is available for comment

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: [email protected]

US Solar Census highlights boom while Australia dithers

Figures released overnight by the US Solar Foundation, as part of their annual National Solar Jobs Census, reveal a growth industry that employs twice as many people as the American coal industry.

“We shouldn't be surprised at these figures, but they should be a true wake up call to our leaders in Australia, the sunniest country on earth,” said Shani Tager, Senior Solar Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“These are some substantial numbers that once again reinforce the enormous employment and investment opportunities that solar power technology offers right around the world.

“This is what the solar revolution looks like and Australia really needs to up its game to make sure that we don't miss out on the bright opportunities of this boom.

“Right now, our national leaders seem to not just be asleep at the wheel on renewable energy policy, but contemplating flicking the switch to a polluting past,” said Tager.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in March last year, showed that in Australia there were 7480 jobs in solar pv, and 830 in large scale solar. The number of jobs in rooftop solar had collapsed from a previous high of around 14,300 jobs four years before.

The National Solar Jobs Census is the first and most authoritative US national benchmark for solar jobs research. It serves a critical role in understanding the impact of solar energy development in the United States.

First conducted in 2010, the US National Solar Jobs Census uses a rigorous, dual methodology to derive total solar employment figures, as well as important insights as reported by the thousands of employers who participate in data collection.

“It is startling to see that there are more solar workers in the US than people employed at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google combined.

“Solar technology is clearly where the future is,” she said.

This Census reveals that in 2016 there were 260,077 American jobs in solar, a 25% increase from 2015. Solar jobs grew 17 times faster than the overall economy in 2016, with 1 in 50 new jobs in 2016 being solar workers.

“The Solar Foundation’s data confirms that solar employs more than twice as many Americans as the entire coal industry and as many Americans as the natural gas industry.

“Investment in solar pv has been the backbone of the renewables revolution in Australia but we clearly need to urgently get our policy settings right so we don't miss the boom of investment and opportunities that other countries, like the US, are attracting,” said Ms Tager.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: [email protected]

Another Prime Minister parrots the same nonsense on renewables

Prime Minister Turnbull’s speech at the Press Club today is yet another in a long line of examples of how out of touch the Federal Government is on renewable energy policy.

“To anyone who has an eye on the future it was remarkable in its denial of facts and its refusal to recognise that the renewables revolution is here, and is being driven by state governments like South Australia in this country,” said Maria Cirillo, Deputy National Director, Solar Citizens.

“The Prime Minister has again failed on the basics, an astounding situation in 2017, when he says ‘the battlelines have been drawn - it is clear that the Coalition stands for cheaper energy’ he quite simply - does not get it.

“Solar drives down costs and is the future – storage of solar gives stability, reliability and security - the Prime Minister should stop listening to his supporters in the coal industry and start looking at the future - it is here, it is waving at us, and it is very, very attractive,” she said.

“The Prime Minister is out of touch, solar is the most popular energy source amongst Australians, and they want more of it, the speech shows he is determined to continue to mislead the Australian public on what is really driving up power prices.

“1.6 million households have already taken power back into their own hands by investing in clean solar on their own rooftops, more people are considering solar and storage for their homes than ever before, she said.

“We do note his apparent support for storage, but time will be the test of this support.

“The Prime Minister should support Australians in making the move, rather than focusing on outdated energy solutions and through his attack on state renewable targets, he again shows he is not across national energy issues.

“When he says ‘the next incarnation of our national energy policy should be technology agnostic - it’s security and cost that matter most, not how you deliver it. Policy should be “all of the above technologies” working together to deliver the trifecta of secure and affordable power while meeting our emission reduction commitments’ while simultaneously floating the illusory benefits of ‘clean’ coal and talking down the benefits of solar, we want to tell him clearly, he is dreaming.

“It seems the Prime Minister has again nailed his flag to the mast of the past,” she said.

“Any Prime Minister worth his salt in 2017, should be supporting the future in renewables and moving away from our dirty coal past,” she said.

“The Prime Minister has failed miserably today, we note that he uses the word ‘solar’ three times, ‘climate’ once but ‘coal’ eight times in this speech, such a shame,” Cirillo said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: [email protected]